Montana Public Radio

Montana Sheriffs & Peace Officers Association

Inmate Populations for Select County Jails in Montana
Charles Bolte / Montana Public Radio

County jail populations dropped this spring as the state reacted to the novel coronavirus pandemic. Now, with cases of COVID-19 on the rise, inmate populations in several of Montana’s largest county jails are growing and cell blocks are crowded. Some advocates are calling for more action to reduce the number of people locked up during this time. But local sheriffs say they’re balancing virus risks and public safety. It’s all leaving some inmates worried about their health.

Rep. Rae Peppers, D-Lame Deer, stands at a podium in front of Gov. Steve Bullock and other proponents of Hanna's Act and HB 54 after a hearing of the House Judiciary Committee. January 30, 2019.
Corin Cates-Carney / MTPR

A bill named for a murdered Northern Cheyenne woman had its first hearing in the Montana Legislature Wednesday morning.

Hanna’s Act, House Bill 21, is one of several in the legislature that draws attention to the crisis of missing and murdered indigenous women and girls.

State budgets.
(PD)

Proposed budget cuts could make the overcrowding at Montana’s jails and prisons worse. Groups supporting local law enforcement warned lawmakers of potential consequences of the coming cuts during the Law and Justice Interim Committee this afternoon.

Rep. Art Wittich (R) HD68
Montana Legislature

Montana lawmakers continue to look for ways to curb what they see as overreach by the federal government.

ACLU

A new report says too many of Montana's county jails are unsafe for inmates.

The president of the Montana Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association says it makes some valid points and adds there’s a reason for those conditions.

Chris Hoffman is also sheriff of Ravalli County and says operating jails isn’t easy.

"It is difficult work. Our mandate is to keep those facilities clean and safe for both the inmates and detention officers. It's a challenge every day."